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How much has your school changed?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by perdita, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. For the last 16 years I have worked in a notoriously 'tough' school, when I tell people where I work they usually do a double take and express their admiration that someone would choose to work there.
    I usually defend the school by saying that, yes, it's tough, but a lovely place to work because of the amazing support that you get from colleagues.
    In the last 3 years I've noticed a real change in the atmosphere. Since moving into a brand new PFI building and the appointment of a new head, that lovely supportive atmosphere has gone. Staff are now competitive and mainly interested in self promotion and are willing to make colleagues look bad inorder to get what they want. I come away at the end of the day feeling as though it doesn't matter how hard I work, nothing is good enough.
    I have considered looking for a job elsewhere but, talking to my teacher friends, I get the impression that many schools are like this now.
    Am I right? Is it just my school or is this the way things are going?
  2. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    I could have written this,word for word,apart from the "tough" school. However,the opposite of "tough" can present a different level of problems.
  3. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    I agree, mine is going the same way I'm afraid. This is my 11th year there and the first 9 were good. It's about a 40min drive and there are other schools closer but I've always thought it was worth it as I enjoyed working there and like the people I work with. This last 18 months though, things have changed, slowly and inperceptibly at first but adding up to quite a big change overall. I work 4 days a week though and get a 3 day weekend so that in itself will keep me there a while longer as I doubt I'd get it anywhere else.
  4. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    I think that there are many teachers who have been or are working in tough environments and it is the sense of a shared purpose to move the school onwards and upwards (hopefully) and the feeling that 'we're all in it together' that make the people working there go back day after day.
    Now though, it seems as though the tightening of the screw in all aspects of teaching, has made those who once supported each other through thick and thin, turn against colleagues and look after number 1.
    I really enjoyed working at my last school for a number of years, but the (in later years) frequent staff changes, poisonous atmosphere and relentless pressure, made it an unhealthy place to work. And please don't think that it was just SLT that made it worse. I was part of SLT and had stress heaped upon me time after time.
    I agree wholeheartedly, that nothing you do is good enough. When every box is ticked, every 't' crossed and 'i' dotted, they come up with something else to beat you round the head with.
    Why anyone goes into teaching today is a mystery.
  5. Hmmm... this is starting to look really depressing.
    I think this is spot on.
    PS to the poster who said that opposite of 'tough' schools present their own challenges as well - I'm sure you're absolutely right, and I bet you go home at the end of the day thinking nothing is good enough as well.
  6. I definitley do not teach in a tough school either and I regularly go home thinking why am I teacher? I love the kids (always have done even when teaching in tough schools in the past) and my colleagues are wonderful but there is now an element of something creeping in which I can't put my finger on but does make me feel uncomfortable.

    I left industry because of unrealistic expectations, individuals treated like robots and number crunching and I think this is now part of all education systems.[​IMG]
  7. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    My school is ruralish comp. We were in SM when I arrived, came out two years later, and are now Outstanding.
    I am DREADING going back tomorrow. Classes are split all over the shop, class sizes are huge and we're always being told that we're not doing "it" right... but when I have 12 teaching groups (I teach English... this is not something we're used to!) it's almost impossible to manage everything that needs to be done.
    I have marked every day bar two this "holiday" just to get everything shipshape. I know other people won't have done, and part of me resents the fact that I have wasted my holiday whilst another part feels that at least the pointy finger of criticism won't be pointing at me...this week at least :-(
    The expectations on us seem to be greater every day, and the expectations on the students fewer. I used to love my job but I am feeling more and more that I can't go on with it.
  8. The same happened to my last school. Since a new Head came along, in 2009, it went from being a pleasant place to work, with a stable, supportive staff to a pirhana tank, where people were being forced to turn against each other. The new SMT would call you in for ''little chats' at which it was insinuated that other staff members were 'complaining about you' behind your back. No matter through which newly imposed hoops you jumped, or targets you met, you would then be called to account to for not doing something that you had never heard of before. It was if you were being treated with suspicion without being told why. The most chilling thing of all was, during the morning shout, it would be baldly stated that "following a meeting, Ms or Mr X would not be returning to the school, and had asked not to be contacted."
  9. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    The general public seem to have been given the go ahead to blame everything on teachers and it doesn't matter what kind of school we teach,we will be blamed for something!
  10. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

  11. Blimey[​IMG]
    Never heard of anything like that before!
  12. Me too, although it's a few years now since I was in such a school. (Early retirement.)
    As Mangleworzel says, it was imperceptible at first....you couldn't quite put your finger on what was different...but there was pressure..more and more pressure...and more and more paperwork and more and more targets to meet.
    And then...the staff...always a supportive and friendly bunch in a tough school - they made working there worthwhile because we were all in it together given the majority of the kids were hard work - changed too. It was almost as if we were set against each other.
    The management chats with the newish Head started and it was obvious that I too was expected to apply pressure to those in my team...this, this this and this had to be tightened up. All HOYS were given the same message...so we were either with our teams and fully supportive and encouraging or we were in the Heads camp and reporting back and assuring him the thumb screws had been applied to Mr A and Miss B...
    It was a very difficult and unpleasant position to be in...and the atmosphere throughout the school changed so quickly. Trust amongst colleagues was lost because HODs too were asking stuff of their teams which hadn't been required before and of course they were accountable to the Head too.
    The staffroom was divided, people scurried about keeping their heads down and oh was there heck of a lot of buck-passing going on too. There were huge fall-outs amongst colleagues, people resigning and yes, the Head informing us at meetings that so and so wouldn't be back. It was all quite sinister but no one spoke up. Of course we were told we were making progress and results were pleasing - what a great bunch we were for turning things round - but staff were frightened almost, and under incredible pressure, daily.
    Carefree chats, passing the time in idle chit-chat and gossip became a thing of the past and even lunchtimes were about being busy and keeping on top of our work. My load increased enormously and I could empty my pigeon-hole in the morning and find it stuffed full again with items that needed urgent attention, by breaktime. Not only that we were collecting in homework diaries, exercise books and assignments daily (depending on year group or set) to give to deputies, who were checking STAFF were marking thoroughly and setting work properly. We'd be expected to reply to notes in pigeon holes as to why a certain bit of homework had been set...and explain how it tied in with the scheme of work and certain levels of attainment. It was that picky. Then the progress of certain students was highlighted...mark books were checked too.The effort made by students wasn't considered.
    The pressure of teaching on top of keeping up with paperwork and admin matters was incredible. It was almost like going into a classroom to teach was secondary to everything else...except SLT would lurk in corridors and pop in to spend time roaming round classrooms...again, checking staff, not students so lessons had to be properly planned and prepared and if we were to use televisions, we had to explain in detail why it was necessary. No videos or slacking off slightly at the end of term was allowed...There was no informality in lessons at all. Kids were kept under the cosh and of course for some, the pressure was so great that they'd explode. No child was to be sent out of a room. CCTV cameras checked and should a student from a particular class be roaming the teacher was called to the Heads office to give reasons why there was internal truanting going on. The unit for disruptive kids wasn't allowed to be full at any time, so miscreants were sent back to lessons.
    It was a horrible working environment and I was glad to have a reason to leave...although it really saddened me to say goodbye to some great colleages...stalwarts, old-timers who were great teachers and good with difficult kids...who were suffering and taking time off sick. This was unheard of - they'd turn up day in and day out and do a great job. They were committed and competent but the pressure got to them. One or two had break downs and didn't come back. A career ruined?
    Shudder. [​IMG]
    I cannot begin to describe how awful it became to teach there...it was as though all staff were found wanting. A clever ploy to keep us in place?
    Those awful memories stay with me and I can only sympathise with teachers facing similar pressures or strained working environments.
  13. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I've always believed the rot sent in when some *** introduced SLT to spreadsheets. And e-mail. With (of course) Satan's hand tool Powerpoint in close support. SLT becoming adept at MS Office has enabled the exponential growth and rapid distribution of bureaucratic, statistical, and pseudo-analytical sh*te on an industrial scale.

    There's also been a new breed of Heads appearing in recent years who've been indoctrinated in ninja management techniques. Like warrior monks many of them are electively bald (well the men anyway) and they seem to believe the sole purpose of school leadership is to 'turn round' the school organisation/system as fast as possible, then jump ship to another 'challenge'. Heaven forbid that anyone should invest a couple of decades of their career presiding over the gradual organic growth and improvement of the same learning community.

    Might I also add that one has to accept that many of the younger generation of teachers were raised with different values and aspirations to the older ones, grew up in a different world, and face a very different future. We have to make some allowances for societal change in this.

    A change of Head can make a huge difference (for better and worse) to the atmosphere in a school - and this will only be magnified by the growth in the number of academies, and increased leadership powers.
  14. Wow, MSB, you've just described the head at my school. Including the electively bald bit!
  15. fudgeface

    fudgeface Occasional commenter

    These posts are really frightening. I've been teaching 20 years in 4 different secondary schools. My current school is exactly as previous posters have described with slt setting people against each other and to top it off there are many of us at risk of redundancy.

    I am seriously considering taking voluntary redundancy as I'm really unhappy with how things are turning out in education. I'm scared about not having a regular income though.
    What would you do?
  16. I really don't have a choice, we need the money. I'm on a major economy drive at the moment and just waiting to hear if SLT are prepared to let me go down to four days a week next year.
  17. fudgeface

    fudgeface Occasional commenter

    I know what you mean but I think being happy is more important to me than having disposable income at the moment. I think slt want rid because of my age so perhaps it's time for a change.
    For once in my life I wish I was 10 years older so I could consider retiring!
  18. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    And mine - the bald bit in particular, but everything else as well! Is the baldness a prerequisite to do think?
  19. You are very wise....
    Being poor and happy is infinitely preferable to teaching imo. (My last school was awful though, and I thought it was unique in it's terrible way, but I discovered soon afterwards from teacher friends that similar things were happening in most comps.)
    Peace of mind and a stress-free existence is priceless. I was lucky to get thirty years under my belt before I left though...and also fortunate too I think that it was only towards the end of my career that the job became unrecognisable from the (enjoyable, rewarding and worthwhile) one I trained to do..
  20. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I was thinking that way about two years ago (age 50) and decided (amongst other reasons) that wishing the next ten years of my life away was completely wrong, so I handed in my resignation and took my chance on supply. To date I've kept my head above water, managed on a greatly reduced income, and have paid my share of the bills, although the work opportunities are getting tighter, and the pay varies considerably. I have no regrets about taking the decision to resign and have no idea what the future holds, apart from my having no intention of returning to full-time teaching again. Part-time maybe - I shall just have to see what turns up. It's been a bit of a leap in the dark to put it mildly, but in hindsight it was the right move for me.

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